Jones urges Rotherham to be switched on from the start

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ROTHERHAM TITANS must start today how they finished their last game if they are to have any hope of adding to relegated London Welsh’s difficult opening to life back in the Championship.

Rotherham inexplicably trailed 41-0 at Bedford after just 50 minutes last Friday yet staged a revival of sorts to score four converted tries and collect a bonus point in a 46-28 defeat.

Welsh, meanwhile, have already lost three of their seven games since falling out of the Premiership.

But they have retained much of their top-flight personnel, including former England centre Olly Barkley who has been operating at No 10, and will need no second invite if their South Yorkshire hosts are initially sluggish once more.

“We were undercooked from a physicality point of view, inaccurate in the way we handled the ball and gifted a very good Bedford team some great opportunities early on,” admitted Rotherham coach Mark Jones, who subsequently makes seven changes for this afternoon’s contest at Clifton Lane.

“It was a culmination of everything wasn’t functioning; our defence, our set-piece and some of our phase attack options were very poor and we just didn’t connect on any level.

“We know we’ll have to be much better against a very good London Welsh outfit this weekend.

“They were playing Premiership rugby a short time ago and have real quality within their ranks.

“We’ll have to make sure we’re mentally switched on to our game and make sure we get our own plans right.”

Jones fields a completely new front-row against London Welsh of Michael Cromie, Jack Preece and Lewis Thiede.

Lock Barney Maddison and back-row Tom Calladine both come in, too.

Behind that pack, Michael Keating returns on the wing for Curtis Wilson and Sean Scanlon is recalled at full-back as Ross Jones goes to fly-half for the injured Tom Barrett.

Impressive Doncaster Knights have suffered a blow with the loss of in-form Ollie Stedman to a three-match ban.

The No 8 was found guilty of a striking offence committed in last Saturday’s 28-11 bonus-point win at home to Cornish Pirates, when he scored two tries along the way.

Alex Shaw will deputise for Stedman at home to London Scottish today, shifting from blindside flanker where September’s Championship Player of the Month Latu Makaafi will slot in.

Director of rugby Clive Griffiths includes young fly-half Sam Olver on the bench, having linked up with the squad from Northampton Saints earlier this week, meaning Andy Bulumakau drops out of the match-day squad completely.

Will Owen, in his second stint at Doncaster as a dual-registration signing from Leicester Tigers, also comes in among the replacements.

The Knights will be seeking a fifth win of the campaign.

Centre Will Hurrell said: “The mood’s pretty good within the camp, especially after last week’s result and performance.

“But it’s important to remember that it’s a very different challenge ahead of us this weekend.

“Scottish were in fantastic form last season and started well enough this time around, although they’ve had a couple of tough losses in their last two outings.

“We know they’re going to come hard at us (today) as a result but this is our home turf, we’re on a high from last week and we feel like we’re playing some great rugby at the moment.”